Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon apparently is prepared to set up shop as a law unto himself by deciding which federal gun statutes he will enforce.
In a news conference on Thursday, Sheriff Cannon declared that he would refuse to enforce gun laws that he views as unconstitutional.
But we’re not sure yet exactly which laws he’s talking about. Would they include potential new laws for more background checks on gun sales, bans on assault weapons and limits on the number of rounds an ammo magazine contains?
Maybe all of the above.
Sheriff Cannon has decided that we have “more than enough laws” regulating guns. And he has announced that he, on his own, will decide which laws are constitutional and which aren’t.
Who needs lawmakers or judges?
If new gun laws don’t pass his personal smell test, he won’t enforce them. Simple as that.
The sheriff likened his decision to a soldier’s decision to disobey orders that he believes are illegal.
Surely Mr. Cannon knows there is a difference between battleground decisions and civilian law enforcement.
Would his deputies be expected to follow his lead?
Surely Sheriff Cannon knows his job is to uphold the laws of the state and nation, not merely the laws that he individually sees fit to enforce.
Personal nullification isn’t an option.
Some in law enforcement share his concerns about the constitutionality of proposed restrictions on gun purchases and ownership.
But many law enforcement officers applaud stricter regulations over firearms, having made the connection between the easy availability of guns and crime. Certainly, stronger restrictions are a reasonable response to tragedies such as that in Newtown, Conn. And that was only the latest in a long line of gun-related horrors.
Should new gun laws be enacted, they can be challenged in the courts. That’s the process in our nation of laws.
Al Cannon is known for speaking his mind. In this instance, he should display less ego and more professionalism and restraint. And stop the grandstanding.
He should remember that he was elected to serve as Sheriff Cannon — not Judge Cannon.